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YouTube Moves Into Mobile Games With ‘Playables’

YouTube’s looking to make a bigger push into gaming via a new “Playables” element that’s now being tested in the YouTube app, which will enable users to play simple games in-stream, as opposed to only watching gaming content.

As explained by YouTube:

Playables are games that can be played directly on YouTube on both desktop and mobile devices. If you’re part of this experiment, you’ll see a section on YouTube called “Playables” that will appear alongside other content on the home feed. We’re testing this with a limited number of users to start.”

The project has been in development over the past few months, with The Wall Street Journal reporting back in June that YouTube was experimenting with in-app games.

There’s not much detail available at present as to the games that will be available in the app, though one of the rumored titles is Stack Bounce, a simple tap-and-play game.

Stack Bounce example

Users will also be able to view and control their Playables history and saved game progress within their “History” tab, which suggests that at least some of the games might have more in-depth gameplay elements that would require users to save where they’re at.

Gaming is already a huge part of the YouTube experience, with many of the most popular creators in the app having links to the gaming community. Gaming content generated over 4 billion hours of watch time in the app in 2022, and given the already-present, and active gaming focus in the app, it makes some sense to see YouTube branching into direct game access, which could hold strong appeal with its user community.

Though in-stream games have a mixed history. Netflix’s move into mobile games hasn’t seen big response, with only around 1% of the app’s user base engaging with its game offerings, though more recently, it has re-focused its gaming push to create more games based on popular Netflix shows, which could hold more appeal.

It remains to be seen whether users actually want to play games within a primarily video app, but maybe, with the right offerings, it could increase time spent, and provide another avenue to revenue through sponsorships, ad placement, add-ons, etc.

Which is where YouTube will also be looking, and it’ll be interesting to see how YouTube users respond to its games options, and whether it can drive audience towards the new project.

With customized, YouTube-specific titles, it could well be a hit. YouTube is launching a small-scale test of Playables to begin with.  

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